Times are changing, but not all change is good. Like, I'm delighted about Obama and cheaper gas and how hot cocoa is suddenly the most perfect drink in the whole, wide world. But other stuff's changing, too. Not just changing, but ending. The days are ending earlier. Job stability is ending. And TV shows are ending.
Yup, it's cancellation season, and I'm taking it the hard way--with a pint of Cherry Garcia, a glass of Beaujolais and the fetal-balled posture of someone who's lost all hope at a reconciliation and renewed mutual mooniness. Am I ready to break up with this year's crop of cancelled shows? Not one bit.
TRL and ER and MADtv and The L Word, I can deal with. It's time for those acronyms, et al. to finally rest in peace. I mean, who even knew the first three were still on air anyway? And everyone knows The L Word just hasn't been the same since Dana died, like, three seasons ago. But the fates of Lipstick Jungle and Pushing Daisies, I've got a lot more invested in. Because I genuinely like these shows--even though Lipstick Jungle gets a bad rep as a little too estrogeny (it is, but I'm down with estrogen), and even though Pushing Daisies is a little less original than fans would have you believe (it's whimsical, yes, but almost entirely derivative of Am�lie, Big Fish and CSI).
Despite rumors, neither has been formally let out to pasture... yet (that could change by the time you read this). It was touch-and-go with Lipstick Jungle last week, but as of now star Brooke Shields is confirming the NBC lady drama is still filming with no official call to cease and desist. And Pushing Daisies, regardless of continually abysmal numbers, is receiving some mighty strong push from critics, who have been among the ABC forensic fairytale's biggest (and only) admirers since its debut last year.
At this time, the networks are keeping viewers in limbo, in the pre-split phase of self-destructive anxiety and nostalgia for the very recent past. We've been warned that something is amuck, that there's a "talk" in the near future, that we shouldn't make definite plans to spend Wednesday or Friday nights together a few months from now, 'cause we might just be spending that time alone on the sofa with our candles and cats and nothing to watch but the Food Network, TiVoed Rachel Maddow or the puppy cam du jour. Not that those are bad options.
Uncertainty is a strange emotion to occupy, though. Do we forge further attachments? Desert all previous devotion? Rationalize how we'll be okay in the wake of abandonment by our favorite serial form of entertainment?
Because when a favorite TV show disappears, it's hard not to take it personally. "It's not you, it's me" doesn't really apply here. When a network cancels a show--especially a young, sophomore season show that never quite took off despite everyone's best intentions and your enthusiastic approval--what they're saying is, "Something is seriously wrong with you for liking this. Because no one else does."
A while ago Honest Tea stopped manufacturing my mother's favorite blend (the spicy cinnamon one). She inquired after the tea's whereabouts and was informed of the discontinuation. "How?" she wondered, "It's so very delicious." "You're the only one who thinks so," she was reprimanded.
When a favorite show, tea, artist's record contract, etc. is cancelled, our taste is called into question by the decision maker. We are made to feel that we are deeply flawed individuals for caring so much about the show's survival, for liking it to start with. We question where we went wrong in the relationship. Was it falling too easily for the cast members' playfully posh wardrobes on Lipstick Jungle, for their shirtless manfriends and their mature, slowly unfolding career drama? Was it being too readily seduced by Pushing Daisies' saturated palette, inclination toward absurdity and cloyingly sweet telling of the grotesque?
Then after the questioning and self-doubt comes the futile attempt to try to save the unsavable. When Roswell was in peril, fans sent bottles of Tabasco--the alien characters' condiment of choice--to WB execs. When My So-Called Life was faltering, fans took out ads in Variety and Hollywood Reporter. When Arrested Development was dumped by Fox, fans held out hope it would be picked up by Showtime.
Ultimately, though, we've just got to deal with whatever decisions the networks will make about our future happiness. We can only hold out hope and spinelessly beg for more episodes for so long. The healthy thing to do is to accept the cancellations, cherish what we had together, and realize the experience will never truly leave us. The great thing about great TV is that it sticks with you, and not just because you can buy it on DVD and reminisce ad nauseum. But because great TV actually ingrains itself in you, changes you. Great TV can raise your expectations, and comfort you even in its absence. It lets you know that something amazing is out there, and maybe next time it comes into your life, it'll be for good (or at least for longer than a season-and-a-half).
In other news...
I've been told that wearing sunglasses in the winter is a douchey move, but I don't get it. Sunnies keep the street harassment at a distance and the swirling debris out of the cornea. How is self-preservation an act of douchebaggery? You know what is, though? Socks-less ballet flats when the weather dips below freezing. Keen instinct to avoid the bulky woolens with your Tory Burchs, but I am half-prepared to buy boots for the entirety of this city if I see one more chick in a hat, scarf, gloves and puffy down jacket with bare ankles peaking from between her leggings and flimsy summer skimmers. Look, if funds are an issue, Payless has plenty of perfectly adorable winter footwear for under forty bucks. Also fun for the fundsless: Free entertainment. All you need is a wireless card and you've got 24/7 amusement in the Shiba Inu puppy cam. I have to admit, before Autumn, Ayumi, Amaya, Aki, Akoni and Ando, I honestly believed the only adorable dogs were terriers. But I'm coming to realize that even dogs sans floppy ears and curly furs can be cute, too, so long as they've got tubby li'l 'tocks and scream like Howler Monkeys when bit in the face. Possibly even better than the puppy cam is Capucine, a French preschooler whose mother posts videos of her saucer-eyed tyke singing, dancing, telling stores, eating strawberries, racing snails, snoring and opening Christmas presents. There's an inkling of creepy voyeur doubt that crawls down my spine when I spend hours watching the little darling cuddle with her kitten. But here's how I rationalize it: a) the mom posts the videos online, so she's obviously okay with strangers ogling her kid; b) I emailed the mom and she emailed back, and now I feel like we know each other, therefore feel slightly less weird (thought also slightly more weird); and c) I need to get my little kid fix somehow, and watching them online feels somehow more socially acceptable than being that strange lady in the trench coat on the park bench. People Magazine named Hugh Jackman as their Sexiest Man Alive which is totally meh, as I just don't see the allure of muscles. In response, Jezebel suggested this list, which is much more aligned with my tastes. When did I become old enough to find politicians more appealing than movie stars, I wonder? The only prez before Obama I found remotely attractive was Andrew Jackson (I blame the hair), but Obama has overcome even Pushing Daisies' endearing Lee Pace as my number one man-crush. As always, the perfect band for crushing to, Beach House, is back with a new video for single "Used to Be" off Devotion. Spend your weekend listening to that and making mac 'n' cheese from scratch rather than waiting in lines to see Twilight. Besides, who really cares about vamps, when there are zombie movies to be made?
PW's Weekend Picks: Dec. 13-15
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